Monday, September 16, 2013

How to be lovely in an argument

Arguments...disagreements...rows...squabbles...full blown knock down drag out fights...

We've all had them. Some of us have more experience than others. I'm probably a little more controversial and contentious than I'd like to admit. 

Recently, I've been getting in a series of arguments with a family member that results in contention and hurt feelings. I'll spare the details but for the sake of this post I'll just tell you that I am right and they are assuredly wrong. 

I kid, I kid....(sort of)

I love this exchange between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail

Joe Fox: [writing to "Shopgirl"] Do you ever feel you've become the worst version of yourself? That a Pandora's box of all the secret, hateful parts - your arrogance, your spite, your condescension - has sprung open? Someone upsets you and instead of smiling and moving on, you zing them. "Hello, it's Mr Nasty." I'm sure you have no idea what I'm talking about.
Kathleen Kelly: [writing to "NY152"] No, I know what you mean, and I'm completely jealous! What happens to me when I'm provoked is that I get tongue-tied and my mind goes blank. Then I spend all night tossing and turning trying to figure out what I should have said. What should I have said, for example, to a bottom dweller who recently belittled my existence?
[stops and thinks]
Kathleen Kelly: [writing] Nothing. Even now, days later, I can't figure it out.
Joe Fox: [writing] Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could pass all my zingers to you? And then I would never behave badly and you could behave badly all the time, and we'd both be happy. But then, on the other hand, I must warn you that when you finally have the pleasure of saying the thing you mean to say at the moment you mean to say it, remorse inevitably follows.

Has that ever happened to you? It happens to me all the time. I am constantly putting my foot in my mouth. I'll admit, instead of being timid and sweet Kathleen Kelly, I'm more like the ruthless Joe Fox. I've got the zingers and I sling them with ease...but I never feel good about it.

The internet is a prime place to argue because you can say whatever you want to whoever you want (perfect strangers really) and safely behind your keyboard you feel (at least momentarily) that there are no consequences. You say things you'd never dare say to someone's face.

Here are some thoughts I've tried to adopt while arguing a point with someone I love:

There is nothing you can say that is more important than your relationship with this person. 

If you hurt this person while making your point, your point will mean nothing to you when you are finished. 

If it is important enough, you should stand up for yourself--but do so in a kind and loving way. 

Never attack people personally. 

You are never justified in saying something hurtful, no matter how you have been hurt. 

Remember these wise words from Bambi's Thumper. 

If things get out of hand, it's time to walk away. Like I said, I'm not a guiltless person, but because of that guilt I'm usually the first to back down and the first to apologize/ask forgiveness. It's not fun to have to admit when you are wrong, especially when there is a chance you are the only one willing to humble yourself and ask forgiveness, but ask yourself: Is it more important to love or to be right?


Adam Turney said...

It is definitely more important to be right!


Adam Turney said...
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